Friday, July 9, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 37 which is widely interpreted as:
“a response to the problem of evil,Wikipedia
which the Old Testament often expresses as a question:
why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer?”
It’s a question all of us struggle with, isn’t it?
And wouldn’t we manage things a lot differently
if we were in charge of the world?
Psalm 37 opens with this advice to help us deal with our consternation:
Do not be provoked by evildoers;Psalm 37: 1-2
do not envy those who do wrong.
Like grass they wither quickly;
like green plants they wilt away.
The psalmist continues to demonstrate that even though evil doers seem to prosper, their prosperity is short-lived. Only goodness endures and ultimately thrives.
Psalm 37 sounds very much like a parent teaching a child not to be distressed by the apparent success of the selfish and scheming. God is not fooled by evildoers so neither should we be.
The wicked plot against the righteousPsalm 37: 12-13
and gnash their teeth at them;
But my Lord laughs at them,
seeing that their day is coming.
The advice is easily spoken but perhaps not so easily practiced. So the psalmist offers some tips on how to live a spiritually fruitful life:
- Trust in the LORD and do good.
- Find your delight in the LORD.
- Commit your way to the Lord.
- Be still before the LORD.
- Refrain from anger; abandon wrath;
- Do not be provoked; it brings only harm.
- Wait a little, and the wicked will be no more.
- Turn from evil and do good,
that you may be settled forever.
- Wait eagerly for the LORD,
and keep the Lord’s way;
The psalm indicates the result of such goodness, conditions that sound very much like the Beatitudes:
- You will be raised up to inherit the earth.
- Yes, the poor will inherit the earth,
will delight in great prosperity.
- Better the meagerness of the righteous one
than the plenty of the wicked.
- The LORD will sustain the righteous.
- The LORD knows the days of the blameless;
their heritage lasts forever.
- They will not be ashamed when times are bad;
in days of famine they will be satisfied.
- For those blessed by the Lord will inherit the earth,
but those accursed will be cut off.
It’s hard to live a life like the one this psalm invites us to. (At least, I think it is!) It’s hard to have that much faith, especially when evil is smacking us right in the face. The psalmist acknowledges this difficulty but does so with a beautiful assurance:
The valiant one whose steps are guided by the LORD,
who will delight in God’s way,
may stumble, but will never fall,
for the Lord holds their hand.
Poetry: Give Me Your Hand – Rainer Maria Rilke
God speaks to each of us as we are made,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you:
beauty and horror.
Just keep going.
No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
Music: Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand – Alfred Street Baptist Church